As I write this we are STILL eating Easter leftovers. My Saturday afternoon panic (“OMG, will we have enough food?!”) was totally unnecessary and my family well and truly pulled out the stops.
After the beef salad, my other main contribution was this chocolate torte from a BBC Easy Cook magazine dated November 2014. I bought this at Manchester airport before a flight home – my purchasing decision driven by the fact that it was the cheapest of the food magazines available (which is pathetic as English magazines are generally embarrassingly cheap) and it had James Martin on the cover.
For the past 18 or so months, it’s sat by the side of the bed and been flicked through but never used. This recipe is illustrated by said chocolate torte liberally scattered with pomegranate seeds. As my parents’ tree is going nuts, and everyone in my family likes chocolate (particularly my dad and uncle who are the most vocal about it) I figured it would be a winner.
You can find the recipe on the BBC website where it seems it was first printed in BBC’s Good Food magazine 12 months before being reused in Easy Cook!
On account of not having any light muscovado sugar to hand, I subbed in dark brown sugar but for the remaining ingredients I did as I was told. However, some of the timings in the recipe were a bit off. Beating the eggs & sugar (in a stand mixer, no less) took longer than the 5-8 minutes suggested. The cooking time was similarly optimistic and I had the cake in the oven for an hour. That may be because my spring form tin is slightly smaller than 23cm – its diameter is not marked and I’m not sufficiently bothered to find a tape measure!
There was plenty of topping so any helpers who like to lick out bowls are well served with this recipe. And being light on flour, it keeps excellently.
It’s not the quickest cake to make (beating, beating, beating) but this is definitely a cake that will be made again.
225g light muscovado sugar - I used half and half caster sugar & dark brown sugar
85g ground almonds
50g plain flour
100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
pomegranate seeds to decorate
Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan). Grease a 23cm springform tin and line the base.
Melt butter and chocolate. I always do this in the microwave on 30 second bursts, but you can also use a bain-marie - it will just take a bit longer!
Crumble the sugars to remove any lumps (particularly important if you are using dark brown sugar) and then add to the bowl of a stand mixer along with the 5 eggs. Beat until thick, mousse-like, pale and doubled in volume. This takes a long time but once the sugar and eggs are combined you can up the speed a bit.
Gently pour the melted butter and chocolate down the side of the bowl and fold in. Do this thoroughly - until the mixture is even in colour - it takes a while and it will feel like it is never going to happen but it will eventually!
Sift over the almonds, flour and a ¼ tsp salt and fold in.
Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake until done. The original recipe says 30-35 mins but this wasn't enough for me - I needed an hour - although I do suspect my cake tin is slightly smaller than 23cm. The cake will rise and the top will be set. As this is squidgy, a skewer inserted in the cake will come out slightly moist with some crumbs attached.
Cool the cake in its tin on a rake (it may sink and/or crack).
To make the ganache, bring the cream to the boil on the stove and pour over the roughly chopped chocolate and icing sugar (always make sure to sift this). Leave for 5 minutes and then stir until all the chocolate is melted. Leave to cool and thicken (I ended up putting this in the fridge) before spreading over the cake.
Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and serve with cream.
For some reason, we are not big chocolate chip biscuit makers in this household. This does not mean that we are not enthusiastic consumers of said comestible. I LOVE them and when the mid-morning or mid-afternoon hunger pangs hit at work I’ll often nip next door to the café and buy one.
I suspect the lack of home production stems more from the fact that we rarely have biscuits in the household full stop. However, last Friday afternoon Master 4 and I were off to a play date and I asked him what he wanted to take. Cue a search for a quick, simple chocolate chip biscuit recipe that wouldn’t require multiple trips to the shops.
Luckily (as always) UK’s Delicious came to the rescue with this recipe. For anyone cooking with a child, it’s easy (OK – we do have a stand mixer!) and they will love eating the mixture, shaping the biscuits and pressing in the chocolate chips. As you can see from the photo, four chocolate chips per biscuit is woefully inadequate!
These biscuits strike, for me at least, the right balance between crispy and chewy. I think that that’s down to the combination of caster and light brown sugars. Make sure you use a good quality vanilla essence as the flavour does really shine through (especially if you are mean on the choc chip count and also if the biscuits last a couple of days). If you’re going to beef up the chocolate content, then you could probably omit the vanilla altogether.
We’ve really enjoyed eating these and as they were super quick to do I’m sure they’ll be making more regular appearances in our kitchen.
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or good quality extract, or omit altogether)
165g plain flour
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp bicarb
chocolate chips - as many as you want!
Preheat your oven to 150°C fan (170°C conv) and line two baking trays with baking paper.
Cream the butter and sugars until pale. Add in the egg then the vanilla, flour, salt and bicarb. Mix until well combined and smooth.
Take a tablespoon and form large walnut sized balls of biscuit mixture. Place them on the baking trays - well spaced as they spread a lot (they are easy to separate so don't be too worried about them joining up during baking) and press in choc chips. Four per biscuit looks like a lot when they're a ball but looks like nothing once they're cooked - so be generous rather than mean.
Bake for 15 minutes - the biscuits will spread and start to pick up a hint of brown at the edges. Depending on your oven you may want to keep an eye on them from the 10-12 minute mark. In my oven - 15 minutes was perfect.
The recipe will make between 16 and 20 biscuits. The biscuits do end up quite large but they are also quite flat so they are not like the biscuits you get in cafes that are often as big as your head.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool ever so slightly before carefully moving on to racks to cool completely.
A friend of mine has recently enjoyed a surfeit of fresh fruit. Apparently, the birds in his suburb aren’t quite as fat as those in my suburb (hello, denuded plum and pear trees) and he spent a weekend preserving fruit. The upshot of this was that I received a jar of fig jam as well as a big container full of figs.
I duly ate a ton of fresh figs, tried to share them with Master 4 (he refused, although I suspect that his curiosity would eventually have got the better of him) and then needed to think up a way to use up some more in a rather more bulk fashion. I also had some sour cream kicking around in the fridge that needed using up (we had planned to make some avocado cream to go with some quesadillas but lost interest) so I figured that a fig and sour cream cake would use up both figs and sour cream.
A quick recce of the internet didn’t turn up the ideal recipe but I figured I have enough cake baking experience to borrow a few ideas here and there and then wing it.
The result was excellent – not massively figgy (I was being a bit cautious as the extra moisture in fresh fruit can cause problems) but the cake had good flavour and has kept exceptionally well. Straight out of the oven it was very fragile and crumbly but by day 2 it had firmed up. It is beautifully moist and the mix of vanilla and fig flavours is just delicious.